Friday, March 17, 2017

Conventional & Alternative Medicine Can Work Together

The primary focus of medical care is to provide the most appropriate care to patients given their presenting conditions and the availability of resources at the physicians’ disposal. Modern medical practices have evolved through the years due to an increasing body of knowledge made possible through research, worldwide collaboration and information-sharing processes. Regardless of their field of specializations, many doctors are open to studying and applying treatment protocols that may be outside the standard practices of western medicine. Some of these practices may complement existing protocols while others may offer alternative treatment pathways.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies

Medical professionals aim to deliver the highest quality of care to achieve the best outcomes for their patients. To this end, health pros take their oath seriously, striving for positive doctor-patient encounters for both well and ill visits. While mainstream medical practices typically define the treatment plans for all patients, there has been a steady movement toward integrating complementary and alternative medicine therapies, or CAM, with conventional practices.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 40 percent of adult patients already integrate CAM therapies as part of their lifestyle choices, and doctors are certainly paying attention to the impact of CAM practices on their patients’ health and quality of life. The integrated approach may be associated with other terms such as whole medical systems, mind-body medicine, biologically based practices, manipulative and body-based practices and energy medicine. These classifications are the from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but it must be emphasized that comparisons may not always be clear-cut as the therapies may have overlapping elements, and practices may fall under more than one category.

Overview of CAM Therapies

Mainstream medicine is evidence-based and highly regulated under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies associated with the National Institutes of Health. CAM therapies may be regulated under a different set of guidelines and monitoring agencies.

Whole Medical Systems

This category refers to a system or a collection of medical remedies and treatments focused on a specific philosophy or a belief system such as the presence of internal energy in the body or the relationship of the human body to nature.

  • Traditional or Ancient Healing Practices
    • The healing arts have been practiced in one form or another in ancient cultures. Many of these procedures are based on knowledge of anatomy and physiology coupled with insights on medicinal properties of herbs and other available materials.
  • Naturopathy
    • The practice of Naturopathy involves using noninvasive treatments to encourage the body to heal itself from trauma and symptoms of various diseases. Techniques include acupuncture, massage, exercise, ingestion of herbal remedies and lifestyle counseling.
  • Homeopathy
    • This is a system that attempts to trigger the body’s self-healing response by dosing with small amounts of natural substances known to have beneficial properties.

Mind-Body Medicine

For optimum health, it makes sense to make sure that the mind and the body are in harmony. Mind-body techniques tap the connection between these two systems to encourage relaxation and positivity that can help conventional medical therapies to be effective. These techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Art therapies
  • Other relaxation therapies

Body Manipulation Techniques

As the name suggests, human touch is used to apply pressure and manipulate a specific body part or the entire body. Targeted areas may be directly affected by a disorder, or that area may be connected to a body system affected by ill health. These techniques include:

  • Massage
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Osteopathic manipulation

Practices Based on Natural Supplementation

Western medicine has borrowed and adopted many medical remedies from traditional eastern practices. These are remedies based on natural ingredients formulated into teas, syrups, tablets or similar formats. Herbs such as ginseng, Echinacea and gingko are among the ingredients that are now part of mainstream dietary supplements.

Integrating Complementary Medicine Techniques with Conventional Practices

Conventional medicine is based on practices that have been found safe and effective through research and stringent trials and testing. These tests are typically backed by pharmaceutical companies, university or hospital-based research efforts and other corporate support. Remedies considered as complementary or alternative may lack solid research backing primarily because large and extended trials are expensive. However, many complementary practices have become part of mainstream medicine due to their popularity and the absence of any reports of harmful effects.

Some complementary practices are easily integrated into a treatment plan based on conventional medicine practices. Techniques such as meditation, massage and relaxation therapies can be integrated into your plan of care or as part of lifestyle changes for optimum health. In general, it is best to let your health care provider know about any health and lifestyle choices you have made or plan to make to limit the potential for unintended reactions. Be wary of jumping on trending alternative practices without researching first or consulting a health care professional because treatment plans are customized to individual needs and conditions.

Use of CAM techniques in conjunction with conventional medicine is widely accepted according to a study spearheaded by the National Institutes of Health. More than half of adults surveyed reported that they had included one or more CAM techniques in their treatment plans, and their physicians approved of the integrated strategy. Medical professionals support the use of some CAM practices along with evidence-based mainstream medicine because it empowers patients to take charge of their health care options.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Is Shoulder Subluxation and How Is It Treated?

What is shoulder subluxation?

Shoulder subluxation, more informally referred to as shoulder instability, occurs when the upper arm partially dislocates from the shoulder socket. Many people confuse shoulder subluxation with a shoulder dislocation, but there are a few key differences. Think of your shoulder joint like a golf ball sitting on a tee. The golf ball is the humerus and the tee is the socket, or glenoid. When the shoulder dislocates, the humerus or “ball” becomes dislocated from the shoulder socket and requires a professional to reset it. A subluxation, however, is when the humerus is partially dislocated but naturally pops back into place. It can occur during sports that involve throwing like football and baseball, and it’s usually accompanied by a weak, numb feeling as well as a sharp pain in and around the shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Subluxation

The most common cause of shoulder instability is a traumatic injury to the shoulder. This is one of the reasons why this injury is most common among boxers and football players. For non-athletes, it is usually a hard fall or accident. However, there are also people who have naturally looser ligaments in their shoulders and are more susceptible to injury. No matter the cause, many people suffer from shoulder instability and do not appropriately take care of it.


Similar to a twisted ankle, once a person suffers a dislocated shoulder the chances of it happening again are very likely. The recurrence rate in patients under 20 is 95% and 40-50% in patients 40 and over. The reason for this is that when the injury occurs, the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder socket are torn and then heal back in a stretched position. This gives the shoulder a wider range of motion as well as less stability. If not treated properly, the shoulder can continue to sublux and lead to multi-directional instability (MDI), which can be especially harmful. This is why treatment and rehab are absolutely key in preventing further injuries.

Treatment Options

The first action one should take is to ice and rest the shoulder to help with the swelling and pain, as well as taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Immobilization of the shoulder is important in helping the muscles and tendons heal. A shoulder brace of some kind, like our DonJoy Ultra Sling, will be beneficial in this regard. The brace should typically be worn for about 3-6 weeks to allow the ligaments and tendons to heal properly and to prevent re-aggravating the injury. If the shoulder does not heal and chronic pain persists, surgery may become necessary, but this is not common.


Because of the nature of the injury, it is difficult to say when one should begin rehabilitation for shoulder subluxation. On average we recommend at least 6-8 weeks after the injury before beginning rehab, but prefer up to three months to be on the safer side. After you have allowed the shoulder to rest and the pain has subsided, you will need to start strengthening the muscles in and around the shoulder socket. Begin lightly and slowly increase the weight and intensity until the shoulder begins to feel strong and secure. It may take several months until the shoulder is fully healed, so remember to take care and abstain from activates that could re-aggravate the injury such as contact sports or movements that exert extreme torque on the shoulder like tennis or golf. Proper treatment and rehabilitation will greatly reduce your chances of recurring injuries and complications. However, the shoulder will most likely never be as strong as before so remember to treat it accordingly when performing physical activities going forward.

If you are currently suffering from shoulder subluxation, we offer a fact sheet about this injury as well as a wide line of shoulder braces that can be helpful with your recovery. Leave a comment below with further questions or your own experiences dealing with shoulder subluxation!